Sometime in the fall, I picked up a brochure by the National Park Service on the Quinebaug and Shetucket River Valley. As the last coastal watershed between Boston and Washington, D.C. still dark from space, they called it the Last Green Valley. It’s rolling farm country and small mill towns that went out of business 75 years ago. The designation as a “National Heritage Corridor” feels more like the political pork barrel of a well-intentioned senator, rather than reality while you’re there. I started pushing the idea of taking a three day trip starting in Worcester and following the rivers down to New London and then coming back through Providence. Vic slowly joined in my obsession and bought a pack of constellation cards for the stars we thought we’d see.
As it turns out we only had two days we could spare. I still hoped to get down to Mystic, but thought we’d be lucky to do so. We actually never got close, though we certainly enjoyed the back country rides in northern Connecticut.
For our first night, we met at a down-trodden “Christian” camp in Bellingham, MA. The next morning, took us through Blackstone and across Rhode Island on Route 44. We crossed into Connecticut and tried the donuts and the short river trail in Putnam. From here we crossed on the scenic route 169 and found our night stop at the Mashamoquet Brook State Park. After losing to Vic at chess and drooling over the ranger, I got busy setting up the tent and looking at bats. My bird-looking skills remain under-utilized though I did read a bit about Connecticut soil and heard some doves.
The next morning took us unexpectedly north to Worcester for the train becuase Vic is in the middle of an important work project and needed to get home a bit earlier. On the way out of the “Last Green Valley” you pass Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg Lake. It has suburban lake front now, but must have been something more notable to the folks who named it. Massachusetts is dodgy and depressing after leaving the northeast corner of Connecticut. I think my favorite bit was the quiet, once prosperous town of Thompson in Windham County.
This was the first trip I’ve taken with Vic where we’ve bike camped for a whole weekend and it’s the last trip I’ll get in with him until he joins for a bit the cross country adventure. I’m learning that I’ve got to relax a bit more and stop being a bossy, aggressive my-way-or-the-highway kinda guy. I was able to communicate more boldly that ‘we brake for espresso’ (though we never did because there wasn’t any) and I hope he gets better at picking out quality donut shops. I’m trying not to take down the tent while he is still in it. I think it will work out.
Tri-State touring in New England
I love biking around the quiet corner of Connecticut, and especially the areas around Woodstock that are just off Route 169. Very hilly country, but worth it for the views!